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First Time Build - "Chimera" (Completed... mostly)

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Welp, it's that time.  While there's still a LOT more work to do on marquees, artwork, scripting, adding games, and overall polish, I think we're in a 'completed' enough state to call this build done for now.  I'm going to step back from building anything new for a bit and just enjoy continuing to tinker with this for the foreseeable future.  I'll definitely post more updates if I do anything major, but I think I'm ready to call this project finished for now from a build standpoint.

I grabbed some pictures today of the cabinet running in attract mode, and got a couple of shots of pinball as well, and compiled them all into an animated .gif image to share here.  I had to 'optimize' the .gif, so the quality isn't great, but this should give some idea of how it looks in the living room now.  Anyway, here it is, on location at home:

Right now, we're sitting at 114 PC games, 100 Pinball FX3 tables, 645 Arcade games, and ~3500 music videos loaded.  I've got a few more games still to add on the Steam side of things, and I'm eventually going to get off more into the vpin side of things and try to figure out how to add more emulated tables, but that's more tinkering for future me to enjoy.  8)

I learned a LOT while building this, and it's been a great experience.  Even though I'm posting this as 'done,' I keep seeing things that I could improve on, or ways to redesign things, or simply things I didn't get to add that I would have liked to, like the side panels that Laythe had suggested (I still think he's 100% right - those would look great, but I ran out of time to really do anything with those for this build), or adding 'automatic transform' functionality for transitioning between the upright arcade format or the pinball format.  Still, those are definitely things I'd like to either add to this cabinet later, or incorporate into Chimera 2.0 someday (at some as-yet-undetermined point in the future, but I'm going to have to save up for a while before diving into another build or doing anything else major to this one  ;D.)  I think the next major 'upgrade' I'm looking at first would be to get a couple of Gun4IR guns to replace the wii remotes in gun shells I'm currently using for lightguns, but they work ok for now.  I may also look at commissioning some side art at some point, but I haven't quite decided what I'd want there.

I'll be around if anyone has any questions about my build, or anything I've done here, so please feel free to post here or message me.  For as much as I've relied on you all for the past couple of years while I've worked through all this, answering questions is the least I can do.  I'm also happy to share any of the artwork I've created, as apparently 21:9-sized marquees aren't really a thing out in the wild, so hit me up if you'd like a copy of something.  I'm still looking to put up a .zip file of all my marquees once I get more done, so I'll post a link back to that once it's available.

All that said, I want to thank everyone here for inspiring this project - not only those I've mentioned by name in my posts, but all of you - the random tidbits of information spread throughout this forum have been a tremendous help as I've worked through this build, troubleshooting issues, writing scripts, wrangling configurations, and figuring out how to make all these random parts work together.   This is a great community, and you all are awesome.

Cheers.   :cheers:


Update - 5/23/2022:
I have started sharing images: 

I've added a .zip file containing all my Pinball FX marquee images over on the LaunchBox forums, if anyone is interested:

I have also added another .zip containing some of my PC game / Steam marquees:

...and another containing Marquees and templates for some console games:

I will update again and share more of my 21:9 marquee images once I have more completed and ready to go.

Update - 3/20/2023:
Sharing some 21:9 Arcade Marquees I cobbled together, if anyone is interested:

Update 3/27/2024:  Finally recorded and uploaded a 'showcase' video.   I may replace this with another 'better produced' video in the future, since I was seeing a couple of issues with BigBox (and/or with some of my scripts) when I recorded this earlier today.  In the meantime, though - please let me know if anyone would like more info about something, I'm happy to chat more about stuff or answer questions.   :)

Original post below:

So, according to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature composed of different animal parts.   The definition on Wikipedia ( ) includes the following line, which I found apt:

The term "chimera" has come to describe any mythical or fictional creature with parts taken from various animals, to describe anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling.

Definitions out of the way, here's my unholy transforming motorized monster (but not fire-breathing) hybrid of an upright arcade cabinet and a vpin. 

Here's a youtube clip from a bit earlier in the build process showing the motorized screen movement:

I started this project in around August of 2020, after stumbling onto this forum and seeing  / drawing inspiration from some of the other projects here - most notably Markc74's 'Blip' cabinet, Laythe's 'Mimic' cabinet and Maximus' "MVC Revolution" cabinet.  It's taking so long because I'm only able to work on this on the weekends, about 4 hours at a time on Saturdays.  I started this project with very limited woodworking ability...  and I still have very limited woodworking ability, though I'd like to think I've gotten better at it over the past year or so!  ;D 

I've had to learn as I go, and I've made quite a few mistakes along the way (like dropping the marquee onto and shattering the first 50" TV that was mounted in there  :badmood:) , but I've finally gotten this to a point where I feel relatively comfortable sharing this with the interwebz - so here it is.  We're at about 80% complete with the build at this point.

Although it's going to still need to be painted, I'm hoping to finish the woodworking part of the cabinet build and the control panel wiring, and get it moved into the house before Thanksgiving (which, at the time of posting this, is just a couple of weeks away), and have a functioning cabinet by then:

I'm planning to have more pictures and videos linked over the coming weeks, and will update this thread until this is finished.

Always love a different idea.
Cool implementation of the slide motion.
Is it just straight slides with pivot points in appropriate spots?

I love the innovation going on here! It's a clever implementation of the transforming arcade machine idea. Some pictures of the build process and mechanics would be cool.

Thanks for the kind words!   I'm not as organized with all this as I probably should be, but I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have on this - and I definitely will be sharing more pictures and videos as we go here.

--- Quote from: Ond on November 12, 2021, 11:17:06 pm ---I love the innovation going on here! It's a clever implementation of the transforming arcade machine idea. Some pictures of the build process and mechanics would be cool.

--- End quote ---

Thank you Ond!  After seeing some of the stuff you've built and shared here, I really appreciate that!    I wasn't as good at taking as many pictures earlier in the process, but I have a few and I'll definitely share what I have.  Definitely happy to talk about the parts of the build process that I do have documented though.

I started sketching a rough outline based on the diagrams that Laythe shared for his build of Mimic.  After seeing the result he got on that cab, I decided that something similar would work well for what I was trying to do here.  Here are a couple of the early sketches I did:

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not sure that the dimensions I've got listed on these are entirely accurate - These were both VERY early on, and I was mainly trying to more figure out how things would generally fit together and get proportions set - so if someone were to want to try and build one of these, please DON'T base your measurements on what I have here.   :laugh:

Since the size of the main screen would really determine the proportions and measurements of everything else, the dimensions of the 50" TV are what this was all based around to start with.

After getting the information on the screen height / width / depth, I figured that if the screen was 25.5" wide, 44.1" tall (when in vertical orientation), and 3.2" deep, then I should probably build a box for the screen 26.5" wide and like 45" long, and 4" deep (to mount the screen in with a little clearance for ventilation and be able to protect it somewhat).  The rest of the measurements came from that.

One of the things I loved seeing was the digital marquee - I knew I had to have one if I was building a cabinet.  Sadly, the 'bar LCD' screens from china are still fairly expensive, so my compromise was to go with a 29" LG Ultrawide - the 21:9 ratio on this isn't ideal, but it's not too bad.  I've been working on custom 1280x540 marquee artwork for a lot of games.  While my woodworking skills aren't great, my 'photoshop' (actually GIMP, because I'm not made of money Adobe!) skills are a little bit more polished, so I've been able to produce well over 200 custom images so far, and I add a few more every week as I have time.  I have a custom marquee for all of the PinballFX3 tables, and I have custom Marquees for all of the steam games I've added so far, and I've started going through the MAME games and adding artwork for those as well.  Here are a few examples:

This is my current 'main' marquee:

Here are some of the other custom marquee images I've put together for various arcade and steam (or indie) games:

and here are a few of the 21:9 pinball marquees I've put together, that will display when a given table is loaded:

For the pinball marquees, I've tried to make sure that when laying these out, I leave room at the bottom for a DMD display, so that can be overlaid on the marquee as well - like this:

At some point after I'm completely done with the build I'll bundle most of these 21:9 marquees that I've made up and share them all online so that the community at large can use them if they want.

There are some MAME games that I absolutely want to get custom bezels made for, but that's going to be an ongoing process for now.  I have dynamic bezels so far for only a couple of games - 1942, Ms. PacMan, and Galaga are the main ones right now, off the top of my head, but I'll be adding more for at least some of the other MAME games in the future.

--- Quote from: bobbyb13 on November 12, 2021, 10:27:40 pm ---Always love a different idea.
Cool implementation of the slide motion.
Is it just straight slides with pivot points in appropriate spots?

--- End quote ---

I initially thought of doing something with like garage door slides, but I couldn't ever quite make that work.  Instead, I went with a hinge assembly I found on amazon for a wall or cabinet-mounted folding table.

I used a drill press and carefully drilled holes in one end of the main hinge to be able to thread a 1" steel structural pipe through, and that's how this is mounted in the rear of the cab.  The rest of the movement assembly for the cabinet is some heavy duty full extension drawer slides, and another, smaller piece of structural pipe at the front of the screen box.  I realized this morning that I don't actually have a good picture of this, but I'll see about getting one either today or next weekend as I've still got to finish putting a back on the cabinet anyway, hopefully later today - I'll have to see how much I can get done this afternoon when I'm able to go back to the shop.

The motorized movement itself comes from the linear actuator I appropriated from a Monoprice 'pedestal' lift table.

More to come...

I was able to snap a couple of pictures from the rear of the cabinet.  Hopefully this will help show how I have the screen hinge and drawer rails working for the screen movement.

I've got a 27" monitor wrapped up under that blanket - at some point in the next two weeks, it will be mounted to the board I have up there now and will serve as the 'backglass' when we're in pinball mode.  Not pictured is the 14.9" bar LCD that will serve as the primary 'heads up' DMD for the pinball system as well.  I'm still working out exactly how I'm going to get these mounted, but I'll add pictures once I get it completed.  My current expectation is that the actual rear of the cabinet will extend outward a bit from the body, similar to the overall profile of an original NeoGeo cabinet. 

Here's a closer shot of the inner workings of the interior from the rear:

There are wires everywhere at the moment - I kinda wired up the speakers well ahead of time and I've been using them to listen to music while I work on other stuff.  :)  I've got some ideas on how to integrate the cable management through the back once it's completed, so that all the wiring is out of sight for anyone playing, but I haven't quite made it that far yet in the build.  I'll have more pictures once I get it built though. 

For completeness sake, here's a shot from the back of the marquee as well, where I have the 29" LG ultrawide mounted on a 'quick remove' flush VESA mount (so I can easily remove / replace it if needed), the pixelcade LED panel, and the 5.25" Pioneer speakers mounted:


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